NEWS

#Vote2018: Hike In Yaqona Price Affects Campaign Logistics

ANALYSIS: Yaqona retailers will be laughing all the way to the bank over the next few months as election campaigns rev up. Visits to villages and communi­ties for political campaign
03 Apr 2018 09:51
#Vote2018: Hike In Yaqona Price Affects Campaign Logistics

ANALYSIS: Yaqona retailers will be laughing all the way to the bank over the next few months as election campaigns rev up.

Visits to villages and communi­ties for political campaign teams will not be whole or perceived as proper if yaqona (in the pounded or unpounded form) is missing.

Observers will measure how wel­comed a politician is to a particu­lar locality by the amount of yaqo­na presented as his/her isevusevu upon arrival there.

It follows that the longer the yaqona session, the more popular the politician will be.

It holds true today because ordi­nary folks simply don’t have the cash to buy yaqona for consump­tion by scores of people at gath­erings like traditional occasions (funerals, weddings and the like).

So when a guest, like a politician, arrives on the scene, it means free flow yaqona. So it’s time to indulge while there’s plenty of it and free-of-charge.

With the price of yaqona is at its highest in years, candidates will have to be smart about their cam­paign efforts.

Some are relying on social me­dia to do that for them. The more traditional candidates would natu­rally prefer face-to-face meetings.

And with an open constituency, candidates will be forced to focus on the different communities they are already connected with.

Former school teacher and SO­DELPA provisional candidate Faith Grace over the weekend reached out to teachers through the Fiji Teachers Forum Facebook page to tell them of her intentions to stand and the changes she hopes to bring if elected. Most in the other camps are doing the same.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka and SODELPA provisional candidate Faith Grace.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka and SODELPA provisional candidate Faith Grace.

Another strategy where cost can be shared is to campaign in teams rather than going at it alone.

The National Federation Party, for instance, is holding pocket meetings in teams of six to 10. A recent meeting in a Suva suburb was led by party president Pio Tikoduadua, vice-president Seni Nabou and provisional candidates Lenora Qereqeretabua, Jiosefa Ga­vidi, Riddhi Darmodar, William Lee and Samuela Naicegucegu.

To take yaqona as i sevusevu, one would have to fork out at least $100 for a kilogram

At the Labasa market, pounded kava currently sells at $120 to $140 a kilogram.

Imagine buying 1 kilogram of kava for every village or district visit. In the province of Macuata, there are at least 12 districts and over 100 villages.

But candidates are also coming up with new and different ways of making their visit meaningful.

Tanya Waqanika, a provisional candidate for SODELPA, high­lighted in one of her recent social media posts, the high price of yaqona.

“Very expensive buying waka and more expensive when you don’t even drink it.’’ Ms Waqanika said.

“I am sure that most of the homes that we visit, their beautiful wives will be the most happiest that we buy them the equivalent in grocer­ies.”

Ms Waqanika, who hails from Tavuki, in Kadavu, and has mater­nal links to Lomanikoro village in Rewa, reminded herself that when running for office, a yaqona farm is a ‘must have’.

SODELPA provisional candidate Tanya Waqanika.

SODELPA provisional candidate Tanya Waqanika.

Yaqona from Kadavu is currently ranked as the best buy in the mar­ket … for quality and taste.

Will the change to now take gro­ceries instead of yaqona, be the new norm?

Not just for political gatherings but for other similar visitations.

It will require getting used to on the part of the giver and the re­ceiver.

While it may go against tradi­tional norms and obligations, it will surely be welcomed by those receiving it.

In the final analysis, the success of venturing into unfamiliar ter­ritory, like a village setting, will be measured by the amount and quality of yaqona one presents as his/her i sevusevu. It will be talked about well after the election is over … whether you are in or out of parliament.

Edited by George Kulamaiwasa

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj



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